Self-esteem is the mirror your child uses to view themselves and the map they use to navigate their world.
As parents, we know how important it is for our kids to have a high self-esteem. Self-esteem is the mirror they use to view themselves and the map they use to navigate their world. Your child’s self-esteem shapes their confidence and how they view their worth.
Much of your child’s self-esteem stems from you. The things you say and do can either help or hurt their self-esteem. If you want to build your child’s self-esteem, here are five things you can do.
1. Opportunities to Succeed
You can build your child’s confidence by giving them opportunities to succeed. These opportunities can be big or small. Your child just needs the chance to demonstrate their competence.
Clinical psychologist, Meg Jay, explains, “Confidence doesn’t come from the inside out. It moves from the outside in. People feel less anxious — and more confident — on the inside when they can point to things they have done well on the outside.”
Giving your child opportunities to succeed builds their confidence. Succeeding at one thing will give them the confidence to tackle another thing. If your child can succeed one time, they will be more likely to succeed again. And again and again.
Some opportunities for success include:
— Household chores
— Puzzles and Games
— School clubs
––Learning a new skill
— Music Lessons
— Dance Classes
— Art Classes
— Volunteer Opportunities
In addition to providing opportunities for success, acknowledge your child’s successes, too. This will help them to recognize things to be proud of, even if their original goal wasn’t achieved.
Ways to acknowledge your child’s successes include:
— “I know you didn’t win the game, but you worked so hard and scored some goals.”
— “This may seem hard to do right now, but remember last time? You were able to push
through and do it.”
— “You didn’t get an A on your test, but you still scored better than you did last time.”
— “I know you’re upset that you made a mistake, but you’ve made great progress and
still had a great performance.”
2. Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
Stanford professor, Carol Dweck, describes two mindsets: growth mindset and fixed mindset. These mindsets affect the way we lead our lives.
Those with a fixed mindset believe their skills, talents, and personality are limited to a specific capacity they were born with. You’re either smart or you’re not. You’re athletic or you’re not. You’re charismatic or you’re not.
However, individuals with a growth mindset believe that they can change and grow. They can improve their skills and talents through their efforts, application, and experience.
Having a growth mindset can improve your child’s self-esteem. It’s important that you teach and model a growth mindset. Help your child understand that they can improve their skills and get better if they work at it. They are not limited to whatever comes natural to them. They can work, grow, and develop any skills they are lacking.
While modeling a growth mindset, it is important to be specific with your praise. When a child does well on a test, try to avoid platitudes such as, “You’re so smart.” Phrases like this can cause a child to think they are not smart if they struggle the next time. If they aren’t smart, then there is no point in trying to do well.
Examples of growth mindset praise include:
— ”You worked really hard.”
— “You stayed after class to review problems that you didn’t understand.”
— “I like your choice of colors you used in your painting.”
— “You seemed to enjoy that challenge.”
— “I’m proud of you for doing your best.”
These compliments will help them to cultivate a growth mindset. They did well because they worked hard, not because they were naturally talented. This will inspire them to continue to work, grow and push past challenges.
3. Listen More
Take time to listen to your child. Giving them this space lets them know that they matter to you. Listening creates a secure attachment between you and your child. This security gives them confidence to try new things because they know they have a safe space at home.
Listen to whatever they want to share with you. This could be stories about their day as well as the struggles they’re experiencing. Listening shows them that you care about them as a person.
While listening to your child, it’s important to give them your full attention. This may mean turning off the tv, putting down your phone, or moving to a quieter room together.
One great way to listen is by validating your child’s feelings. As you validate how they feel, you can show empathy for their experiences. This creates a healthy relationship with their emotions and with you.
Children who display negative behaviors and act out are often in need of extra support. Talk with your child about what they may be experiencing. Don’t be shocked if they aren’t responsive at first. Emotions are big and complicated, especially for children and teenagers. They may not be able to make sense of what they’re feeling. And sharing those complicated feelings can be even more difficult. Keep trying and keep listening. After a while they will feel more comfortable sharing their feelings with you.
4. Teach Shame-Free
Shame is the quickest way to erode your child’s self-esteem. It can leave deep, long-lasting emotional scars. Shame tells your child that they are not good enough and not worthy of love. It threatens their identity and how they view themselves. This is the opposite of self-esteem.
Brené Brown is a shame researcher at the University of Texas. She explains that, “We live in a world where most people still subscribe to the belief that shame is a good tool for keeping people in line. Not only is this wrong, but it’s dangerous. Shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying.”
Brown also explains that there is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is a focus on behavior whereas shame is a focus on self. If we have done something wrong, guilt tells us, “I’ve made a mistake.” Shame tells us, “I am a mistake.”
When you correct mistakes or bad behavior, do so without shame. Call attention to the mistakes your child has made, but separate your child’s actions from who your child is. Using shame as a way to “teach” your child will only teach them to hate themselves. This can lead to low self-esteem because they think they are inherently bad or wrong.
Your child also needs to learn how to be self-compassionate. Self-compassion is based on how you respond to your struggles. Simply put, self-compassion is being kind to yourself.
There will be times when your child’s efforts and hard work will fall short. Self-compassion will protect their self-esteem when they make mistakes or miss their goals.
Without self-compassion, your child’s self-esteem will only be based on what they can achieve. This leads to fragile self-esteem. It does not exist unless they achieve great things.
Teach your child to be kind to themselves, even when they fall short. When they are upset, have them practice taking deep breaths. Then suggest they say some of the following phrases out loud:
— “It’s okay that I am disappointed.”
— “Everyone makes mistakes.”
— “I am allowed to feel this way.”
— “I am grateful for what I was able to accomplish today.”
— “This mistake does not change my worth.”
— “I still deserve to be loved.”
Helping your child practice self-compassion is a great way to build and protect their self-esteem.
As a parent, you can nurture and grow your child’s self-esteem in a positive way. We want our children to have a positive evaluation of themselves. You can use these five tips to develop your child’s self-esteem. This gives them the confidence they need to navigate school, jobs, and their relationships now and in the future.
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